Understand Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is a form of chronic pain that causes swelling and a constant pain in one limb of an individual.

Very little is known about this condition but it typically develops after the individual has injured their limb.

Although the injury may be very minor, the pain the person experiences are completely out of proportion and will feel far more severe than it normally would.

CRPS is a very unusual condition that appears to be a combination of physical pain and psychological confusion; the brain picks up on the pain in the limb but greatly exaggerates this pain. It can be extremely frustrating to live with but there are a number of ways it can be dealt with.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

People who suffer from complex regional pain syndrome will often report that the area of skin around the affected area becomes very sensitive, and even the slightest touch can cause extreme discomfort.

This discomfort can also be brought about by a change in temperature of if pressure is applied to the skin.

This discomfort will quickly become an intense pain, and if the condition is left untreated then the pain can spread to other parts of the individual’s body.

The length of the condition varies from person to person. For some the pain will pass after a few weeks, usually after the limb they injured has healed.

However, for others, CRPS can last for months and even years. This condition can also go into remission, and reappear after stretches of inactivity.

This is obviously very frustrating for the individual suffering from the condition, so it is advised that you organize an appointment with your local Doctor as soon as possible if you believe that you may have CRPS.

CRPS Symptoms

The main symptom of this condition is a constant sharp pain in and around the area where the limb was injured. Muscle waste is a possibility, but only in the most severe of cases.

This occurs when the individual becomes unwilling to utilize the affected limb due to the induced pain. Other symptoms associated with CRPS include

– Changes in the color of the skin surrounding the affected area. The skin may veer from pink to colorless to blue, and it is often blotchy. The texture of the skin can also change becoming thinner and shiny.

– People with CRPS often report a change in skin temperature, and this seems to occur on the fly.

Such individuals report that one moment they will feel sweaty, while the next they will be cold.

– Hair and nails can also be affected, and there will typically be a change in the rate at which these grow. Usually, it will be much slower than normal, or much faster.

– The area in and around the affected limb and joints will swell and become extremely painful and stiff.

This will result in reduced mobility and the individual will have difficulty in moving the affected limb.

Understand Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

CRPS Stages

Most cases of CRPS can be broken up into one of three stages of progress. These stages are used to diagnose the individual and decide which course of treatment is most appropriate.

However, it should be noted that not all people with the condition experience these three stages.

Stage 1

This will typically last between one and three months and is defined by an intense searing pain in the affected limb.

In this stage people with CRPS encounter joint stiffness, muscle spasms and faster growth of their nails and hair.

The vessels of the affected limb may also undergo a change, resulting in the skin color and temperature to alter.

Stage 2

This stage generally lasts between three and six months, and during this time the pain in the affected limb can worsen.

Changes in skin color and texture will become more apparent and swelling and stiffness of the joints increases in severity.

People who enter the second stage of CRPS will find that the muscle tone around the affected area begins to weaken.

Stage 3

This is the last stage, and changes to the limb are often irreversible. People who enter stage 3 of CRPS may experience a significant loss of muscle, the bones of the affected limb may begin to bend out the shape, the joints will become extremely stiff and it will be very difficult to bend or use the affected limb.

This is why it is extremely important to deal with this problem at an early stage, as employing the correct treatment can prevent you from entering the final stage.


Doctors today utilize three main types of treatment to counter the effects of complex regional pain syndrome.

The first round of treatment involves physiotherapy and other forms of physical therapy aimed at improving the function of the limb. Anti-inflammatory medicines can help reduce joint pain and swelling.

Counselling and support therapy helps people deal with the problem. CRPS is an unpredictable chronic pain condition, and it can be difficult to predict how long it will last for, or the severity of the pain it will cause.

The sooner treatment is introduced to the individual, the better chance they have at successfully recovering from the condition.


Complex regional pain syndrome is an unusual chronic pain condition that affects particular limbs, usually after they have received some form of minor injury.

This condition is categorized by constant burning pain, and for many people, this can become unbearable.

In the majority of cases, CRPS will disappear after a few weeks, but for some, it can last months or years.

It is extremely important to seek treatment for this condition as soon as possible, as leaving it be will make it worse.